Campus News

UK Participates in Come Together Kentucky Conference

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 16:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Lexington will be well represented by busloads of University of Kentucky students as well as local high school students and community leaders at the 2015 Come Together Kentucky Conference: With Liberty and Justice for All, hosted today through Sunday at Murray State University.


This year is a turning point for the conference that has focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues for 20 years. In the past, dedicated student and community leaders have organized and planned the conferences.


Now, the four universities in the state that staff and fund offices dedicated exclusively to their LGBTQ communities – UK, Murray State, the University of Louisville and Northern Kentucky University – have agreed to support the annual event, giving it more stability and a more secure future. The four also agreed to rotate hosting the event. All interested high school and college students as well as community members statewide are still welcome, regardless of the hosting site.


“This will provide additional support for the event, ensuring its robust future,” said Lance Poston, director of the UK Office of LGBTQ* Resources. “This commitment will make the annual conference sustainable, lifting the burden a bit for those individuals and groups that have kept it alive all these years through sheer will power.”


The conference planners’ goals for those attending are to learn to take pride in being part of the LGBTQ community, while developing as active leaders shaping their vision of the future; to understand the intersectionality of identities to better advocate for liberty and justice for all; and to develop and cultivate friendships with other students, faculty, staff and community members.


In addition to supporting the annual conference, the four universities have committed to support each other’s ideas and programs and to serve the other Kentucky public institutions that don’t have a fully developed program of their own, said Poston.


“The conference has been student-led for all these years. It will continue to be student-led in the future,” said Poston. “The significant difference is that Come Together Kentucky will be an institution-supported force moving forward.”


With this year’s theme “With Liberty and Justice for All,” the conference will focus on LGBTQ identity, social justice and fostering community, while providing networking opportunities. Participants will experience a weekend-long professional and interactive conference with keynote speakers, programming sessions and social activities.


Come Together Kentucky’s keynote speakers this year include Brandie Balken, program director of the Gill Foundation; Carly Lehwald, a trans advocate and a cast member of ABC Family’s “Becoming Us;" Roey Thorpe, director of advocacy programs for the Equality Federation; and Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd, who is also the director of the Human Rights Campaign for Alabama.


“The theme, ‘With Liberty and Justice for All,’ provides a space for individuals to celebrate recent progress for LGBTQ equality, while also hearing from nationally recognized speakers and participating in discussions on some of the ongoing struggles that remain for underrepresented populations in Kentucky and around the country,” said Jody Cofer Randall, LGBT coordinator at Murray State.



MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302,

UK Debate Team Off to a Strong Start After First Two Tournaments

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 15:52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Debate team competed in the 44th Run for the Roses. The Run for the Roses is a small round robin format tournament where eight of the top teams in the country were invited to compete against the top Kentucky team.


The field represented the best of the best including Harvard, Michigan, Georgetown and Emory. The Kentucky team of Donald Grasse and Theo Noparstak finished as the tournament’s first and third speaker. This was the first time a Kentucky debater had won the top speaker since 1993 (Paul Skiermont).


A day later the entire Kentucky squad and almost 100 more teams joined the field for the 45th Henry Clay Invitational. Donald Grasse would again take the top speaker (out of 186 competitors) and he and his partner would make another incredible run to the semi-finals.


Two other Kentucky teams reached the sweet sixteen of the tournament, something no other school accomplished and something not done by a Kentucky squad in at least two decades.


"The team is off to their best start in more than twenty years," said coach Dave Arnett. "After the first two major tournaments of the year, Kentucky has finished second and third, out of around 100 teams at each.


"Last year they showed the country Kentucky debate was back with a sweet sixteen appearance at the National Championship tournament. This year builds on that and has the squad in the conversation for its first national championship since 1986.”


Donald Grasse, a distinguished member of the UK Debate team, says the team is able to finish strongly during competitions through lots of research and preparation. “I personally dedicate 40 plus hours a week to debate research.”


The team is doing better than ever in last two decades.


“For the first time since 1993, we have three teams hovering around the top 20 in the nation," said Grasse. "We had at least two teams in the top 16, we have been in the top four finishers twice and we found ourselves in finals once."


For more information about the UK Debate team visit their website.




MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, (859) 257-6398;

Annual 'hEAR the Music' Benefits UK's Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 13:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) – For the second year, the University of Kentucky Department of Otolaryngology and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, will host Songs for Sound 'hEAR the Music,' an event to promote UK's cochlear implant program at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts. Proceeds from the event will benefit UK's Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, which is run jointly by the Department of Otolaryngology and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.


Songs for Sound, a non-profit organization from Nashville was founded by Kevin and Jamie Vernon whose daughter Alexis is a cochlear implant recipient. Their core mission is to improve the quality of life for profoundly deaf children worldwide by providing resources to give them the chance at a mainstream life. Songs for Sound informs the hearing-impaired community and provides resources for cochlear implants and rehabilitation, including speech/audiology services, to children and adults in need.


This year's program features the musical talent of the Warren Brothers and Lance Miller, two of Nashville's elite hit songwriters performing their hits which have been performed by such artists as Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Dierks Bently, Martina McBride, Thomas Rhett, Jerrod Nieman and Lance Miller. 


In addition to the evening's musical entertainment, some of UK's cochlear implant patients will share stories about their journey to hear again in the face of hearing loss.


"Songs for Sound 'Hear the Music’ is such an important event for our patients, the University of Kentucky, and our region," said Dr. Matt Bush, assistant professor in UK's Department of Otolaryngology.  "It represents a collaborative effort among dedicated clinicians, amazing patients and the generous Songs for Sound team. Our cochlear implant program has grown progressively over the past 20 years and this event will enable us to expand our research and extent our reach to provide the absolute best hearing healthcare for patient throughout Kentucky and beyond. This will be a fantastic event that will highlight top country artists and patients who, in spite of their hearing loss, have regained the ability to ‘hEAR the music.’”


VIP level sponsorship for 'Hear the Music' which includes complimentary tickets and admission to special pre-concert reception can be purchased from the Songs for Sound website ( and general admission tickets ($30) can be purchased directly from the Singletary Center for the Arts website or at the Ticket office located at 405 Rose St., Lexington, Ky 40508. Children 12 and under are admitted for free and their tickets can be secured from the Singletary center box office. UK employees and students and Lexington Hearing and Speech center staff can receive $5 tickets from the Singletary center box office with a valid ID.


Doors will open to the Singletary Center President’s Room at 5:45 p.m. the day of the event for the VIP reception and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Singletary Center Recital Hall for the general admission ticket holders. Live and silent auctions will be held at the event and feature UK basketball tickets, an Orlando vacation condo, and many other exciting items. For more information, email in the UK Otolaryngology department or call the Singletary Center at 859-257-4929.


Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or